Hundreds of thousands of Baltimoreans know Ednor Gardens-Lakeside by sight if not by name.
For more than 40 years, people who have attended countless baseball and football games at Memorial Stadium have at one time or another noticed the row of white stuccoed English-style houses beyond the center field fence. Many would recall that they envied the people who lived on East 36th Street because they could watch an Orioles or Colts game from the confines of their homes.
"You really can't see into the stadium like the buildings around Wrigley Field in Chicago," said David Bernell, who has lived on 36th Street for eight years. "But I was always able to sneak into the Orioles games after the fourth inning."
Ednor Gardens-Lakeside, which extends from 33rd Street to Argonne Drive and Ellerslie Avenue to Hillen Road, has always been known as the community with a stadium in its front yard. Now with the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the Ravens stadium downtown, it will soon be without a stadium for the first time in its history.
Some people would think that the neighborhood would be glad to see it go, but they would be mistaken.
"I loved the Colts and Orioles being here," said Anna May Becker, who for 24 years has lived on Rexmere Avenue only two blocks from the stadium.
"Most people liked the excitement, but of course you wouldn't plan a party on game day," she laughed. "No matter what you were doing, you always half-listened to the game; you couldn't help it," Becker said.
The neighborhood is almost all owner-occupied, and its residents have a great attachment to it. "I was all set to move to Anne Arundel County, but I just couldn't do it," Becker said.
She's typical of the residents who describe the community as extremely friendly and centrally located. One of its most outstanding characteristics is the lush, well-tended landscaping in front of every house.
"Everyone's a gardener around here," Becker said. A garden walk is held every year. For Jim Gashel, who lives in Lakeside and is president of the community association, it was the idea of having a yard on all four sides. "It's like living in a suburb in an urban area."
Ednor Gardens-Lakeside is actually two physically distinct neighborhoods, one made up of rowhouses to the north of the stadium, the other of mostly detached houses to the east. It is the work of two of Baltimore's premier rowhouse developers, Edward J. Gallagher and Frank Novak.
For both men, these developments were a great departure from anything they had done before.
Gallagher purchased the land in 1923, which was part of the Garrett estate named Montebello, from Mrs. Henry Barton Jacobs, widow of Robert Garrett. Gallagher had built hundreds of brick-and-marble rowhouses for the working class, especially in East Baltimore. He then wanted to create a rowhouse community of a special design, and for its name took the first two letters of the names of his sons, Edward and Norman.
In the early 1920s, many expensive upper-middle-class row-houses, especially around Roland Park and Guilford, were done in the English style. Gallagher took this style and adapted it for a middle-class budget. The first houses sold for $7,000 to $9,000. He knew the automobile was becoming a household necessity, so he built garages into the walk-out basements of his rows, one of the first developers to do so.
Frank Novak, Baltimore's biggest rowhouse builder, turned for the first time to building single-family detached cottages in the 1920s. He, too, bought land from Jacobs and called the development Lakeside for its proximity to Lake Montebello to the east. The styles range from bungalows to redbrick Colonials.
In an odd confrontation in 1933, Novak sued Gallagher to prevent him from building rowhouses on East 36th Street, east of Ednor Road.
The area was zoned only for detached houses, but Gallagher got the zoning ordinance changed to allow rowhouses. Novak, the builder of 7,000 rowhouses at that time, charged that Gallagher's rows devalued his single-family houses. He prevailed and Gallagher could build only single-family houses on that section of East 36th Street. Ironically, Novak went back to building regular rowhouses when he realized that they were more profitable than detached houses.
Ednor Gardens' design is what sets it apart from other rowhouse neighborhoods, according to Rob Preston, a Realtor with Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. "The quality of construction is excellent, with plaster walls, hardwood floors, slate roofs, and with stucco and stone facing," Preston said.
The stone on the houses in the 3600 blocks of Ednor Gardens came from the extensive blasting that had to be done to prepare the site. The first blocks were advertised as the "English cottage in the city." Building halted during the Great Depression, but when it resumed in the late 1930s, the style switched to an all-brick "Williamsburg" design without garages.
Residents of Ednor Gardens-Lakeside are quick to point out that their neighborhood is very diverse. It is a neighborhood made up of mostly professionals who want a high-quality house for an affordable price.
"They're few places in the city that can offer features like this for under $80,000," Preston noted. It always has been a very well-organized community with 100 people showing up for a meeting, according to Gashel.
A wooden stadium on land donated to the city by Frank Novak was there when the neighborhood began, then in 1954 came Memorial Stadium. When the Orioles left in 1991, plans were started to determine what would be developed on the site. And now that the NFL's Ravens have left their temporary home, the fate of Memorial Stadium is on a faster track.
Under the leadership of Charles C. Graves III, director of planning for the city, a Memorial Stadium task force was set up to include Ednor Gardens-Lakeside residents in the planning process.
"The stadium would have sat there for years; it was the neighborhood's strong organization that prodded the city and state along," Gashel said.
The state has appropriated $850,000 to plan the razing and $9 million was to follow for cleanup and redevelopment. The city had expected to begin the demolition on the 30-acre site early next year.
But this month, officials of Dome Real Estate, the development arm of the Johns Hopkins University, offered a preliminary $45 million alternative plan. Rather than tear down the stadium, they propose to keep the exterior and the field, remove the seating and enclose the space for offices.
"The area now holds great promise because of the redevelopment," Gashel said.
Whatever the new use, it'll be a lot quieter than the old one. David Bernell will miss the cheering, "I'd be on the phone when a game was on, and people would ask me to turn down the television," he said.
Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 15 minutes
Public schools: Waverly Elementary, Venable Senior High, City College, Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical Senior High
ZIP code: 21218
Average price of a single-family home: $74,000*
* Based on 37 sales reported to the Metropolitan Regional Information System.
Pub Date: 6/28/98